Friends are critical to so many parts of our lives. Especially as we age, friendship and companionship impacts our mental health and also our physical wellness. The challenges of making friends, especially after the last year and a half of semi-isolation is made greater as we age.
Our circle of friends can be reduced when our opportunities lessen to meet new people, as happens when we retire. Also, the friends we have had all our lives may have moved to other parts of the world (thank goodness for technology) or they may have even passed away, leaving us with a reduced circle of companions.
Studies show that isolation and loneliness negatively impact all areas of our wellness. According to SENIORS MATTER, “In his previous book, The Neuroscience of Human Relationships, Louis Cozolino emphasizes that people (at any age) who have more social support tend to have better mental health, cardiovascular health, immunological functioning, and cognitive performance.”
It’s not just nice to have active friends and people we can depend on in our lives, it’s crucial.
4 Strategies to Make New Friends
The old school way of doing things might be the most comfortable way for many people. Going to activities you love and meeting others who share the same passions. Whether it be a hobby, club, activity at the library or a local museum, meeting people and striking up conversations is the best way to start.
You never know when you’ll meet someone who you just “click” with; it could even be at the grocery store!
Clubs. Clubs and hobbyist groups are a terrific way to meet people that you’re sure to have something in common with. These could be anything from book clubs to stamp collecting, gardening to fitness. Even activities like playing cards or video gaming can be interactive and shared positive experiences. For more information on gaming for seniors, click here.
Classes. Ever wanted to know how to make the world’s best home made pasta? Cooking classes might be right up your alley. There are many classes offered through community centers, local colleges and even Home Depot has small project classes you can sign up for!
From music to pottery and dance to arts and crafts, there are classes for all types of skills. One of the best ways to find out what fun classes are available is to check out GROUPON. Not only can you see what’s happening near you (be sure to enter your zip code at the top), you’re sure to find a good deal.
TripAdvisor also offers some very interesting suggestions for activities, and yes, classes are listed, as well as local sites to see. Be sure to enter your geographical location for easy searching.
Museums, Art Galleries and Libraries. One of the strategies for these locations is that you actually have to speak with others around you. Since these places aren’t “organized” to make you interact with others, you’ll need to take initiative.
The good news is that in these kinds of places, you’ll find lots to talk (or whisper if you’re in the library) about.
Outdoor Clubs. Walking clubs, tennis clubs, even the local community center will have outdoor activities now that summer is upon us. Just be sure to stay hydrated and open to meeting new people.
Be a Regular at an Outdoor Spot. Chess or dominoes at the park, dog parks and birdwatching locations are great places to meet others who share your interests and enjoy the great outdoors.
Outdoor Fitness. Again, being a regular has its advantages. Many parks have outdoor workout areas or tracks to walk or jog. There are also classes like beach yoga, tai chi or clubs for croquet, lawn bowling or shuffleboard.
Social Media has many terrific tools for meeting people online. Facebook has Groups (click here to find Groups on things you’re interested in). Facebook Groups are a great way to learn about your passion and even meet others who share the same interest!
MeetUp is also a great place to see what is happening locally and to meet others, initially online, then taken into the real world.
***When interacting online, always be sure to be careful with your personal information and how much info you give to a stranger. Romance and friendship scams can befall people all too easily. Read here for more information.
No matter the method you take when making new friends, it’s up to you to make conversation, whether out in the world or virtually. Be wise, exercise caution and have fun!
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Do you have questions about how you can better support your loved one while they age in place in South Florida or regarding homecare in general? Please contact CareGivers of America here: Contact or call us toll free: 800-342-4197
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